Drone, the ally of precision agriculture.
Drones have become indispensable in agriculture. Jérémy Guil, responsible for soil management and fertilization at the regional chamber of agriculture, clarifies the current and future contours of their missions, during an interview conducted by the Telegram.
What is the most common use of drones in precision farming?
We use them mainly to observe crops on nitrogen nutrition parameters. With the drone imagery, we evaluate the state of deficiency of the plants in nitrogen. This allows us to have a fairly accurate calculation of the fertilizer dose to bring. Plots are mapped for farmers. Depending on their equipment, machines they have, they set an average dose for all parcels and roll more or less slowly on the sectors concerned to make a manual adjustment. Or, if it is possible to introduce a card into the tractor's computer, the dose is then adapted according to the GPS positioning of the machine. This service is offered for rapeseed, wheat and barley.
What about herbicide spraying and insect release for drone pest control?
There are trials in progress. We are able to locate weeds with drones, especially in corn plots and intercrops. But for the moment, we are only in exploratory phase for treatments. It's not up to date.
If we do not propose releasing trichogramma larvae on maize by drone to fight the corn borer, many Breton cooperatives do. The interest is to avoid the use of herbicides. The challenge is to put the larvae into production at the right time for them to be effective. It is a somewhat random method, although the efficiency is very good when all conditions are met ...
Has the interest of drones been overestimated? What will be their areas of application in the future?
Do not expect too much. A drone can not make up for bad weather conditions or bad sowing ... In the future, we can propose a drone evaluation of game damage. As well as the assessment of dry matter in maize, to determine the right stage of harvest for fodder and establish the schedules of intervention of agricultural contractors. However, satellite imagery may be preferred for soil quality assessment because it is less expensive to zonage plots for supplemental lime and potash inputs. The drone is also not the right tool for the preventive treatment of diseases. Instead, we are moving towards climate modeling to reduce treatments.